Having had the GI Joe license since 2008 – and creating their own, successful continuity with the characters – IDW began reprinting the 80s Marvel issues that were largely written by Larry Hama. Each volume contained ten issues of the original series – and revisiting them in the present day is a fascinating look back at just how different things were in the 80s; not just for comics in general, but in a geopolitical sense too.

One thing that’s apparent is military veteran Larry Hama’s real life experience in the armed forces – having served in the US Army during the Vietnam War. He shows great attention to detail, using real military slang wherever appropriate, despite the often daft acronyms and code names for vehicles and characters – a necessary evil considering the toy line and animated series that the comics draw from.

The Cold War was in full swing back when these issues were first written and released, so there’s an element of USA vs Russia here – including one story where they must form an uneasy alliance – despite the non-geographic COBRA being the major antagonists for the most part.

In fact, there’s a much more grounded and almost real-world military feel to these stories than I expected – even Snake Eyes has an unusually muted (no pun intended for that silent character) appearance that makes him look more like a soldier than the more familiar, high tech ninja look he was soon sporting.

The art is superb, if dated in terms of colour and the lack of detail in some backgrounds – the side on views of underground bases are stylistic touches we really don’t see much of any more, but they’re excellent.

Though entertaining enough, these stories do feel very of their time and somewhat antiquated. It’s interesting to see the beginnings of these characters, but it clearly takes a little while before the series hits a consistent tone, both from a content and visual perspective.

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